Plants of hybrid origin

John Grimshaw
Mon, 14 Jun 2010 23:42:25 PDT
Hybridity and the species concept are very complicated issues and come in 
all shades of grey, but the scenario Donald Barnett describes where an 
apparently stable hybrid is found in an area with only one parent present is 
by no means unique.

Rodger Whitlock's suggestion: I suggest you simply refer to these plants as 
"Opuntia × charlestonensis
Clokey", with a foot- or side note stating "believed to be a natural hybrid
between O. phaecantha and O. erinaceae".

is a good one, but I think you could also use the form:

" On X mountain is a population of plants that have been described as 
Opuntia charlestonensis Clokey, which appear to be of hybrid origin with O. 
phaeacantha and O. erinacea [NB spellings!] as parents, although only O. 
erinacea is now present. Their status requires further investigation.'

This places the plants in their biological context as a population (which is 
what matters!), relates that population to a taxonomic concept (i.e. 
Clokey's name) which is a matter of opinion, and leaves the door open for 
both dissent and agreement.

Clokey has already established specific status for these plants, so nothing 
further needs to be done if that is taxonomic viewpoint taken, but an 
objective account would also present the alternative view that it could be 
treated as a hybrid O. x charlestonensis Clokey (no change in authorship 
needed) on account of the following evidence (...)

John Grimshaw

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